Business units set to be converted into new seafront flats

Felixstowe Sea Road flats

The new flats in Sea Road, Felixstowe, are occupied but there have been no takers for the commercial units below - Credit: RICHARD CORNWELL

Space set aside for tourism-related business at a new seafront housing development look set to be lost - because no-one wants to take-up the opportunity.

The developers say they have been consistently marketing the ground floor of the new building for two years but have found no uses or clients.

It had been expected that the 2,333sq ft of space - which could be one or two units - in Sea Road, Felixstowe, would become shops or a restaurant.

East Suffolk Council planners are now saying the space should be turned into four new flats instead, but Felixstowe Town Council is opposing the project and says it should be refused to help the growing tourism industry.

The town council said: “Tourism activity in Felixstowe has expanded year on year for over a decade and is likely to grow further. Recent investment and enhancement of this area has demonstrated that there is a wide market for commercial and resort uses.

The ground floor commercial space in Sea Road is still being marketed

The ground floor commercial space in Sea Road is still being marketed - Credit: Richard Cornwell

"We request that the applicant work with Felixstowe Forward, East Suffolk Council's Economic Development team and the Felixstowe BID to develop a broad marketing strategy prior to any conclusions being drawn over potential unviability.”

The site was originally home to the North Sea Hotel, which after standing empty and boarded up for 14 years was demolished to make way for a four-storey property featuring 23 flats.

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It was agreed the ground floor frontage onto Sea Road would be commercial space.

East Suffolk Council's planning committee south is being recommended to agree the conversion to flats when it meets on October 26.

Planning case officer Grant Heal said the council's Economic Development Team had raised concerns regarding the loss of commercial floor space. However, the applicant Sea Road Developments had completed 22 months of sustained marketing of the site.

Mr Heal said: "It is accepted that the marketing strategy undertaken by the applicant is sufficiently robust and comprehensive in its scope. It would therefore be unfair to penalise the applicant for the unforeseen implications of volatile market conditions; which by their very nature remain in a constant state of flux.

"Whilst, it is unfortunate that the commercial units have remained vacant since their construction, they have been appropriately marketed with no uptake for occupation." 

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